NORFOLK (NNS) -- More than 7,300 Sailors from 17 commands and three staffs from the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) returned to their homeports today after spending seven months on a routinely scheduled combat deployment.
While on deployment, HSTCSG supported maritime security operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf as well as provided close air support for ground forces serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
HSTCSG and coalition maritime forces operated together to help enhance security in the maritime environment, complementing the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations and disrupting violent extremists' use of the maritime environment.
Throughout the deployment, Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) aircraft flew more than 26,500 hours during 9,500 sorties. Of these, 2,459 were combat sorties directly supporting coalition forces operating on the ground in Iraq. The air wing flew almost 14,000 combat hours and expended 77,500 pounds of ordnance during 228 troops-in-contact events as well as providing defense to the Iraqi oil platforms. Additionally, they provided logistical support to the American Embassy in Lebanon.
CVW-3 aircraft also conducted a variety of theater security cooperation exercises with 5 countries in the 6th Fleet and 5th Fleet theaters to enhance interoperability and tactical proficiency. These exercises fostered stronger ties with regional navies, strengthened relationships with allied nations and improved collaboration among Coalition Task Forces.
Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 26 ships operated with over 50 coalition warships from 11 countries supporting combat operations in Iraq, providing Maritime Security in the Persian Gulf, and conducting seven exercises throughout the Middle East.
They conducted 1,021 approach and assist visits, which promoted relations with local fishermen and merchants and encouraged them to contact coalition warships as first responders against Persian Gulf piracy and smuggling.
CDS 26 units also conducted visit, board, search, and seizures operations, searching for vessels that could support international terrorist organizations by transferring personnel, drugs, and weapons.
Additionally, they provided security for the Khor Al-Amaya Oil Terminal and Al-Basra Oil Terminal in the Northern Persian Gulf against possible terrorist attacks. These platforms provide more than 85 percent of Iraq's revenue, and are vital in the country's effort to rebuild.
Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, Commander Carrier Strike Group 10, said in order to accomplish such diverse and important missions, the strike group had to form bonds and work as a team. He said over the course of work-ups and the deployment, they did so and rose to extraordinary heights.
"Each of the separate entities came together to forge a greater and more unified team," Rear Adm. Fox said. "We did this by building upon what was created by those who came before us and helped to forge a path for those who will take over the mission in the future."
Truman's commanding officer, Capt. Herman Shelanski, said the operational readiness of the crew, commitment of the mission and support from the families is what made the deployment so successful. Shelanski said he is proud to have served with each Sailor and that the Truman team and HSTCSG exceeded his expectations.
"Our Sailors trained hard, sacrificed much and finished this deployment after achieving extraordinary accomplishments and readiness," Shelanski said. "Our Sailors represented the U.S. proudly by protecting our country and staying committed no matter what situation they encountered."
To ensure the success of the deployment extended beyond the return to home port, Truman conducted a variety of training classes promoting sound decisions to help keep Sailors safe in port. The information provided in the classes help not only individual Sailors but whole families by telling the Sailor what to expect once the ship returns to home port. Topics covered included drinking and driving, returning to children, traffic safety, motorcycle safety, car buying, and money management.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.